TV Upfront Revenues: A Still-Changing Face For Marketers

The changing face of the TV upfront market? You probably don't need anyone to drum you over the head concerning the improvement of cable networks, the up-and-down road of NBC, and the growth of Spanish-language networks.

But if that isn't enough -- and you need some specifics -- just follow the money. Estimates are that Univision pulled in around $1.7 billion in the upfront. Sounds big? It happens to be around the same amount NBC pulled.

Sure, we all know upfront deals are just "commitments" and that advertisers have options to pull back on that spending throughout the year. Univision's numbers also include its smaller broadcaster TeleFutura and its cable network Galavision. No doubt there are also differences in overall advertising/programming loads between NBC and Univision.

Even with these differences, I'm reminded of stories written since the upfront was completed over a month ago.

For example, a lot was made about how cable networks reeled in more money than broadcast networks -- about $8.9 billion in upfront deals to $8.5 billion, according to one estimate reported in MediaPost.

What wasn't mentioned much in most of those stories was the apple-to-oranges relationship.

Cable upfront revenue includes some 70 ad-supported networks compared with five to seven broadcast networks (some of which may include Spanish-language channels). Also, cable upfront tallies all day-parts and broadcasters just primetime.

Even then, we understand that cable networks, like Spanish-language TV, is a growing business - or, for the most part, an indication of where marketers believe the growth is.

For Spanish-language TV, this trend isn't new. For the better part of two decades, many researchers and futurists have estimated the rise of the Latin American U.S. population and thus TV viewers. The knock on TV marketers has been that they are sometimes slow to move.

But David Lawenda, president of advertising sales and marketing for Univision, told The New York Times that the company has made big progress over the last year and a half, signing up 150 new brand advertisers -- with an additional 40 advertisers signed up since the upfront presentations in May.

Many avenues exist for networks, new and old, to gain revenue -- and to gauge advertising health.

But if you are NBC or another English-language network, you might, in the short term, look at all this and think -- in a growing digital entertainment world -- can other traditional networks also add new upfront advertisers?

Internet advertising sales executives would say yes -- there are many advertising opportunities left to explore, and that comparisons, even rough dollar estimates against competitors, can foster new sales thinking.

Tags: television, tv
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